Surprises For Physicians Coming With In Health Insurance Exchanges
Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE
important components of Obamacare are Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and
Health Insurance Exchanges (HIEs).
adoption of both by medical communities and the states has been slow for good
discussed the difficulties of setting up and the executing effective Accountable
Some hospital systems are trying to set up ACO’s. These hospital systems
are buying up physicians’ practices and trying to develop integrated care
The hospital systems are buying the physicians’ intellectual property and
surgical skills sets. It will not work once physicians realize what happened.
The relationship between community hospital systems and practicing
physicians had always been tense. Physicians do not trust hospitals and hospitals
do not trust physicians.
Some physician groups are trying to develop their own ACOs. They are trying
to convert hospital systems from being providers of patient care to vendors for
their physician ACO.
If there are two hospitals in a community or town the hospital systems
might become competitive.
The huge problem for physicians is the assuming of risk. If healthcare
insurance companies cannot manage risk, why would physicians think they can
A variable that cannot be controlled
in managing risk are patients. With all the obesity and the increase in
diabetes mellitus it seems patients do not have the incentives to manage their
Patients and physicians must be provided with appropriate financial
incentives if there is the slightest chance of managing risk and decreasing the
cost of healthcare.
The adoption of ACOs has been slower than the Obama administration has anticipated.
of the Health Insurance Exchanges has been slow by states. Some states
recognize the financial risk the Obama administration is trying to force on
risk is ever present even if the federal government is going to pay the entire
bill for the first three years.
As soon as physicians realize
the risk the Health Insurance Exchanges are going to impose on them, they will
not be willing participate.
These risks become more
apparent will each succeeding release of regulation.
Kathleen Sebelius said it two
weeks ago when she said there would be plenty of surprises ahead for physicians.
and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who told a gathering a few
weeks ago at the Harvard School of Public Health that she has been
"surprised" by the political wrangling caused so far by Obamacare,
there are likely to be plenty of surprises ahead.”
Physicians could face dramatic
financial challenges for treating patients who receive health coverage through
the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Health Insurance Exchanges starting next year.
“ Insurance companies will not
process claims on patients who haven't paid their premiums in 3 months, leaving
doctors on the hook to recoup payment directly from the patients.”
Obamacare provides a 3-month grace
period to individuals who haven't paid their premiums for insurance purchased
through the Health Insurance Exchanges.
This provision will prove to be a
problem for physicians.
In Obamacare patients who fail to
pay their premium are free to sign up for another plan provided by the Health Insurance
They can also start seeing another
physician without the insurance company or new physicians being aware of the
patient’s delinquent premium record.
"Why would a doctor sign up to treat these patients] if
they're going to be completely at risk and have to collect from the patient
directly for their care?" "This
is a really bad provision in the bill, and we've got to get it fixed."
Under traditional insurance provided
by employers, the plan is still liable for paying doctors even if the patient
or employer hasn't paid their premiums,
Under the health insurance exchange
the individual is responsible for their monthly premium. If the patients
discontinue payment of their premium the healthcare insurer is not obligated to
pay the physician for the care provided.
Most of the time patients have stopped
paying premiums because they cannot afford them. Patients buying healthcare
insurance from the Health Insurance Exchanges are lower income producing
expected annual, out-of-pocket cost for an individual is estimated to be around
$6,400 and $12,800 for a family. This is not an insignificant expense for low
Recent premium estimates indicate
that the premium will be higher. This could be one of the surprises Kathleen
Sibelius is referring to.
Another potential shortcoming of the
Health Insurance Exchange is the reimbursement rates provided to physicians.
The Obama administration believes Medicaid rates are sufficient.
I wonder if any of President Obama’s
healthcare policy wonks ever questioned why so many physicians do not accept
The answer is simple. The
reimbursement rate is less than the physicians fixed overhead to see the patient.
Medicaid physicians are driven to
see many patients a day to try to make a living.
It would be difficult maintaining a
physician patient relationship and a high quality of care seeing over 100
patients a day.
When their overproduction is
discovered these physicians are investigated for fraudulent practices.
The rates the healthcare insurance industry
will pay physicians will not be set until late summer.
The big provider groups are negotiating with plans on their
payments. Small groups will only get a "take it or leave it" contract
from the health plans.
It seems obvious that fewer
physicians will sign up to accept patients receiving coverage through the
Health Insurance Exchanges once physicians understand what Obamacare is doing.
This will result in a further physician
The simple question is what is Obamacare
trying to do to the healthcare system?
Is Obamacare trying to destroy the
The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone
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